Alibi – Legal Maxim | Literal Meaning | Origin | Case Law


Literal Meaning

Elsewhere/ at the another place



In the 18th century alibi was meant to be ‘an assertion by a person that he or she was elsewhere’. However, in the 20th century, a new sense arose to the meaning as ‘an excuse’.


In criminal proceedings alibi is used as a form of defense by the accused against the commission of an alleged offence. When the accused takes a plea of alibi in a court, he or she attempts to prove that he or she was in any other place at that time when the alleged offence was committed.   Generally, Alibi is an excuse which is taken by the person who used to avoid responsibility or blame. Section 11 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 deals with the same aspect. This section enables a person charged with a crime to take what is in general called the plea of alibi which means his presence was elsewhere at the time of the crime.


 A is accused of B’s murder on a particular day at Pune. On that day A was at Bombay, is relevant to prove alibi. He (A) has to prove that it would be impossible for him to commit murder at Pune as he was in Bombay on the occurrence of the offence.

Case Laws

Lakhan Singh @ Pappu vs The State of NCT of Delhi, Delhi HC Crl Appeal No. 166/1999

The plea of alibi cannot be equated with a plea of self-defense and ought to be taken at the first instance and not belatedly at the stage of defense evidence. In any case, the appellant/accused gives no reason or explanations for not taking this plea of alibi at the earliest opportunity.

State of U.P. v. Sughar Singh, AIR 1978 SC 191

In this case court held that it is well settled that the burden of substantiating the plea of alibi and making it reasonably probable lies on the person who sets it up.

In Bikau Pandey And Ors vs. the State Of Bihar, [1960] INSC 258

The Supreme Court of India held that “So far as the question of alibi is concerned when the presence of the concerned accused is satisfactorily established, the Court would be slow to believe the counter-evidence unless it is of such quality as would create a reasonable doubt on the minds of the Court that the prosecution version was not cogent.”

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